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Casting Net: Jessica Chastain eyeing 'villain' role in Xavier Dolan film

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• After singing his praises on Twitter, Jessica Chastain has been approached by director Xavier Dolan (Mommy) to play a part in his first English-language feature The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. Chastain would play the “villain,” an editor-in-chief of a gossip magazine. The satirical film follows an American movie star with a secret correspondence with an 11 year-old in London. [The Wrap]

• Morgan Freeman has reportedly been offered the role of Ildarin in the Ben-Hur remake. Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) is directing the film that will be based more on the 1880 Lew Wallace novel Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ than the 1959 film starring Charlton Heston. Tom Hiddleston is being courted for the title role, but no formal offer has been made. Ildarin is the man who teaches Ben-Hur to become a champion chariot racer. Keith Clarie (The Way Back) wrote the original script that John Ridley (12 Years A Slave) did a rewrite on. It’s set for a February 26, 2016, release. [Deadline]

• Oscar winner Chris Cooper has joined Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts in Demolition. The story centers around the emotional unraveling of a young investment banker after the tragic death of his wife and the chance encounter with a woman who may save him. Dallas Buyers Club‘s Jean-Marc Vallee is at the helm from the Black List script by Bryan Sipe. [Deadline]

• Divergent star Theo James is taking over the Underworld. The character he created back in 2013’s Underworld: Awakening of the vampire named David will now be the central character in the untitled upcoming fifth film of the series. Cory Goodman (Priest) has been hired to write a script that will also introduce two new female characters that have yet to be cast. [THR]

• Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings), Anna Torv (Fringe) and Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) have joined the Australian film The DaughterGeoffrey Rush and Ewen Leslie (Ship to Shore) already star in the debut feature from theater director Simon Stone inspired by his award-winning stage re-imagining of Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck. [THR]

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